Early in the autumn mists….

“…Over the open face of light some sober trails of vapour creep…”

Late August in Sweden, with warm mists moist around my calves and crisp cold air from the waist up… This was a memorable dawn.

I have loved breathing my way back into this scene.

as in Beethoven’s magnificent sonatas, I am reminded and reassured that with daybreak comes renewed light.

Such gratitude. 

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Being seenĀ 

Well I have not quite finished, but my dear friends are definitely making an entrance. As soon as I started to insist on eye contact I felt their kindness reaching across the past and right into my being. It is very touching to feel such warmth …. It is palpable in my room and feels like a very nurturing ingredient in what was such a difficult chapter. 

I wish I could thank them. 

Ma Marriott (domestic bursar) and Ron (gardens) on the back row. 

Bessy and Arthur Selwood (kitchens and maintenance) in the middle.

Mrs and Mr Gassons and paint-pot Pete (who told dreadful jokes) on the front row.  

True friends, real people I could trust and felt at ease with. 


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Kind People

The kind of people I could talk to…. who were normal and friendly. As well as my piano practice, they brought sunshine into my life.   
Paint-pot-Pete used to make me laugh and  Ron with his slow ways asked questions and made me feel calm. He knew all the plants.

Bessy and Arthur sometimes invited me for tea in their flat behind the library and big tall “Ma Marriott”, although she seemed a bit scary boomed “hello little Jenny” sometimes…. it made me feel safe somehow. 

In the kitchens, Mr and Mrs G made a funny, kind hearted couple. Mr G was in charge of the enormous stinking dish washer while his wife served food from behind the hatch. She also stood by the door to clang the enormous ship’s bell at mealtimes. 

Because my mother had been so ill, and my father worked long office hours in the family law firm,we had had a lot of help from people at home…a gardener, a home help, a decorator. They became part of my extended family and I loved them. 

The sense of genuine warmth and care that came towards me from the domestic and maintenance staff were precious points of refuge and nurture. They made all the difference to me. 

I wish I could thank them.

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A fine line….

With a pencil I placed her specs back on her nose.

Just a tiny mark changed everything

Myopic and vulnerable without them 

I could mourn with her

Take her in my arms, protect and console

But as soon as they went on 

She became professorial before her time

and I felt an aversion

could see why she was shunned

and guilt on the heels of anger

swiftly sidelined compassion

How could I hate those rims and pebble lenses?

 Shaped her from entirely innocent to prissy know-it-all?

Such confusion.

I must have hated her for drawing to her the outpouring of viciousness that spewed from all the other angry little girls. 

Little girls who in that old school photo looked just as dismayed by their abandonment. 

It breaks my heart. 

The forget-me-not blue on an old sash windows reminds me of love. 

It was such a long time ago. 

By contrast my grandson (just months younger now than I was then) is a picture of vibrant joy. 

This has to be progress. 

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School Photograph.

For most of my school life I wore a bewildered look.   

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The music block

This was my refuge. It was the closest I could get to the feeling of being safely wrapped up in mother’s old grey dressing gown. Music became the love that enfolded me in her absence. This painting, brings those sensations strongly to consciousness. How amazing that it is through art that I can express this, more so than with music. 

She always encouraged me in this too, but it was not until I started this series, and now especially this one, that I have felt so connected through painting. It is a wonderful revelation.  


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Misheard but so….

I was just having tomatoes on toast with my friend Wendy and boasting about getting someone to pressure wash my paths. Wendy Chinese whispered it into a stunning first line and look what happened….a poem to complement the boarding school paintings of late. 

Credits to Wendy Newman for imaginative misconstruction and thanks for the toast!

There must be a song here?

Thanks to all of you who have been leaving such warm, supportive messages. You are the ” hands at my back”. 
“If I could pressure wash my past

What would it be

Which part would take the blast

Would it be me

If I could pressure wash the past

Prise off the surface dirt of years

But would it hurt

And what would it bare beneath the layers

and layers of compressed pain and hurt

The raw edge of things unsaid untold

The weeping of uprooted souls

The trampled bloom of innocence

Yes scrape away the past but do not leave me bare

to face myself without your hand 

with nothing at my back

to hold me safe

to bring me home

to wash it clean

to catch my tears 

to meet my fears

and let them go their way

No pressure in the past

Just wash it all away” 


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